The Tesla Model 3 now qualifies for the full $7,500 EV incentive thanks to a new loophole in the tax incentive system.
While EV tax incentives have been a critical tool in helping countless buyers afford their first electric vehicles, with a recent constriction of qualifications, the options for buyers looking to take advantage of the full incentive amount have decreased significantly. However, according to a new report from Bloomberg, buyers have identified a new loophole allowing them to get the vehicles they want.
To give some important context, currently, only six vehicles qualify for the full $7,500 EV incentive in the United States. This includes some trims of Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, Chevy Bolt/Bolt EUV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Cadillac Lyriq, and Volkswagen ID.4. And while a larger number of vehicles qualify for at least half of the EV incentive, it is often not enough for many buyers.
The loophole identified by Bloomberg’s newest report is leasing. By choosing to lease a selected EV instead of purchasing it outright, a car buyer can still receive a full EV incentive for vehicles that would, under the new battery sourcing requirements, not qualify for the full amount or no incentive at all. Perhaps most notably, this includes vehicles like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, but this same trick can be extended to the base model Tesla Model 3, which currently only qualifies for half of the $7,500 EV incentive.
On top of receiving full tax incentives, customers would also benefit from lower monthly payments and other benefits that manufacturers offer leaseholders, such as complimentary maintenance and coverage for consumables like tires.
It should be noted that this loophole has its downsides thanks to the structure of leasing a vehicle. Foremost, buyers do not own the vehicle while leasing it, and when the lease is complete, typically after three years, they will have to return it unless they choose to pay a pre-negotiated price for it. Further, while owning the vehicle, manufacturers typically limit mileage to roughly 15,000 per year, with the owner paying a penalty for exceeding that amount.
Other vehicles that customers could now receive a full incentive for, as long as they stay under segment-specific price caps, include the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Toyota BZ4X, Polestar 2, and lineup of Rivian trucks, though this list is not exhaustive.
Bloomberg notes that, due to this new loophole, Ford’s credit division now believes a record number of its EVs will be acquired through lease instead of a traditional purchase. Specifically, the historic American automaker expects 60% of EVs to be purchased through lease agreements, though if EV incentives continue to tighten, that number could grow dramatically.
The EV tax credit changes currently preventing most EVs from receiving incentives are “battery sourcing” requirements. These new rules require an automaker to source at least 40% of its battery materials from the United States or a “free-trade agreement partner.” If it wishes to acquire the full $7,500 incentive, it must also source 50% of battery components from North America as well. These requirements will tighten dramatically over the coming years, eventually reaching 100% sourced from the designated areas listed above.
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